Microsoft Software Chief Talks SaaS In His First Outing

With Gates on safari, his replacement talks up software services to the analysts.

Ray Ozzie made his first major appearance in the role of Chief Software Architect of Microsoft before the company's annual financial analyst meeting.

His speech centered around software as a service, but perhaps more notable was who wasn't at the day-long meeting: the man he replaced, Bill Gates.

CEO Steve Ballmer said Gates was "someplace in Africa at this stage enjoying his vacation."

That alone is newsworthy, as Gates set the bar for workaholic endurance few could match. But Ozzie handled the duties well, continuing Microsoft's mantra of software as a service and almost sounding like's Marc Benioff at times when discussing how to help users get a job done.

"Since our historical success has been PC-centric, it's only natural to think that we might have taken a PC-centric view of how to fulfill these experiences," he said.

"Even in cases where the experience is best delivered by writing applications for the PC, when considering the overall user experience that we're trying to achieve, we now start with a service-centric perspective."

Since his arrival at Microsoft (Quote, Chart) last year via the acquisition of his company, Groove Networks, Ray Ozzie has been very good about getting Microsoft into the online services field, Dwight Davis, vice president and practice director of Summit Strategies, told at the time of Ozzie's promotion.

"He clearly deserves credit of late in getting Microsoft engaged in the online services world much more than it had been prior to his arrival," said Davis. "Microsoft had been remiss in not pushing harder into that space."

Microsoft will use Windows Live as the experience hub to bring users together with the PC, browser and mobile device as the delivery mechanisms.

Windows Live will serve in three distinct roles: allowing developers to create open, interoperable broadscale services; observe and aggregate behavioral activity while respecting user privacy, to improve service; and as a common back-end supporting advertising, subscriptions and transactions.

By making data more portable and accessible from any location, Ozzie believes this may actually increase the number of devices deployed.

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